Archive for horror

Creepy Caves

Posted in Denver, horror, indie, urban fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by rachelcoles

Hi Indies,

It’s been a cool week. I got to spend a couple of days off of work with my Rosa before she goes back to school. I can’t believe she’s in fourth grade now. She can’t be in fourth grade, she just started third grade! Oh, that’s right, I forgot, time speeds up when you get older. That’s either physics or Murphy’s Law.

We got to go to the pool and swim, cook together, and just hang out. She’s completely into Master Chef, so that’s her new game. I learned that I am really terrible at impressions. My husband does a really great Gordon Ramsey impression, and Rosa does the most hilarious Joe Bastianich stare. As far as our actual cooking experiments together, we made homemade ravioli. It didn’t come out horrible, but I’m pretty sure I’d be sent home from the Master Chef kitchen for undercooking the pasta. Yes, I couldn’t boil pasta. In Chef Ramsey’s famous words, “Wha’ a shame!” Rosa, on the other hand, made the ravioli filling and sauce perfectly!

Getting to spend time with my kid made me think about how awesome it is to have people. I’m so surrounded by people all the time, that I take people for granted. I’ve been addicted to Orange Is The New Black, and they talk about solitary confinement on there, and some people who are introverts like me think ‘Oh, yes, to be by myself, how bad can that be?’ Except we don’t get how social animals are, even solitary animals, and being primates, we are anything but solitary, not really. So I don’t think most people get just how awful it is to be alone. When I read stories about immortal being and ancient beings I automatically think, ‘Wow how awesome would it be to be immortal and ancient like that!’ But then I wonder, because in the end, unless a being like that has another one to keep him/her/it company, eventually they wind up alone as the non-immortal world goes by. I guess if you’re a Greek god with a short attention span and can just snag any random human for a booty call then they manage to while away the time.

This next story is about an ancient being some unfortunate people found in a deserted mine.

The Lonely Miner

by Rachel Coles

Exhaust rose up through the windows, making Mark cough.

“Screw this!  Let’s kick on the air, roll up that window.”  Gunther hit the switch, and the windows glided up, as cool air blasted into the cabin.  Santa Fe Blvd was a parking lot.  Mark unrolled the window again and slid half his body out, balancing and peering into the wavery distance ahead of him to see what had caused the wait, as if it would help, with three 18-wheelers blocking the view around the curve.  He flopped into the seat discontentedly, reached back and popped off the lid of the cooler and grabbed a bottle.

“Hey, get me one!  Is that an IPA?”

“Yes it is, and no.  You’re driving.”

“It’s an IPA, like 4.5% alcohol, give me a damn bottle!  Besides, we’re only moving two miles an hour, when we’re going at all.”

“And if it’s a big accident, swarming with cops?  That’ll look great, you sucking down a beer behind the wheel.”

“I’ll be done with it by the time we get around the bend, which may not be until midnight.”

Mark rolled his eyes and uncapped it.  Hoppy vapors swirled at bottle lip and dissipated.  He handed it to Gunther, who got in half a swig as the SUV in front of him suddenly began moving, and picked up speed to about 20 miles an hour.  It kept going, slowly but steadily.

“Shit!”  Gunther took one more long guzzle and handed the bottle to Mark, who finished it and stashed the empty back in the cooler, and grabbed another.  In a couple of minutes, they drifted slowly past a workman in a bright orange vest and a big smiley face, holding up a SLOW sign, waving cars on.  A huge flashing arrow sign ushered cars to

a trickle of one lane, while a line of aggravated drivers waited for their turn on the other side of the bottleneck, detained by another vested workman holding up a STOP sign.

“That job would suck.”  Mark watched as the workman, or woman rather, stood bored and hot, uncaring as motorists glared.

“Amen.  So now you can stop bitching about yours.”

“I don’t bitch.  I vent.  And I never said that it was bad.  It’s just the bureaucratic stonewalling pisses me off sometimes.”

“And you work where?

Mark sighed.  “For the state.”

“Doing what?”

“Contract monitoring.”

“Sooooooo…”

“Right, right.”

“Like going to the tundra and complaining about the snow, and this big inconvenient glacier in your way.”

Mark scowled and watched the landscape flashing by.

Gunther kept talking.  “Me, I live in Office Space.  Milton Waddams is my cubicle mate.  I know it, everyone knows it, and I don’t fight it.  Because I do my job, make my money, and come the weekend, everyone can just fuck off!  I have a job, in this economy, HURRAY! Though who knows how much longer that’ll last.  My company sucks, but that’s something for now at least.  You know what your problem is?”

Mark swiveled his head and waited.

“You been in emergency management for so long you can’t even have a thought without writing a strategic plan about it, every step for the next five years.  How long did you plan for this day hike?”

“I didn’t.”

“Uh-huh.  That’s why you were packing a giant bag when I came to get you.”

“Emergency supplies.”

Gunther turned and glared at him.

“We need emergency supplies, we’re going to an old mining town and tunnel!”

“Not two week’s worth of food and water.  And what else do you have in that ginormous bag, a satellite dish, a parka and mukluks, a James Bond car, what, Captain Eagle Scout?”

“Radios.”

“To radio whom?  If they even work in the mountains. You’re not a ham radio operator, you never went through with the test, remember?  You just wanna look cool with your little nerdy radio.”  He grabbed Mark’s beer bottle and held it to his cheek,  “CHHKKK, BREAKER BREAKER, this is Nerd Patrol, we have a 10-24 at the 246.  OVER AND OUT!”

Mark snatched the bottle and drained the last swig before it could slosh out.  “That’s not what it’s like! Ham radio people are cool!  Have you ever seen those guys?”

“Yes, and you aren’t one.”  He grabbed another couple beers as the industrial buildings and shopping strips gave way to slow rolling foothills.

The air as they pulled onto the Alpine Tunnel 4WD was brisk, like a different climate zone from the unseasonal May heat near Denver.  The car jiggled and bumped as the gravel rattled in the undercarriage.  The parking area was littered with weeds in clumps.  There was one other car.  Pale silver-leaved stands of aspen interspersed with clumps of spiky brown beetle-killed Ponderosas.  Pine and fine beige dust from the parking area filled the air.  Mark pulled some of the food out of the pack, and stashed a few chilled beers in next to the bottles of water, wiping the ice drippings onto his fleece vest.  He pulled out his GPS, fiddled for a minute and pointed towards the left.  “Trail head’s over there.”

Gunther stood in front of the big gaping break in trees and gravel walk that was the obvious trail-head.

“No kidding, Magellan?  How could we have known without your New World gadget.”

Mark grinned and shoved the GPS in his cargo pocket.

The first ten minutes of the trail were mild, carpeted with sienna needles.  It gave way to brush as the trail steepened, surrounded by sage and splashes of bright spikes of columbine, dots of aster and delicate blue bells.  They skirted swaths of scree across the trail, refusing to seem out-of-breath or out-of-shape after less than an hour into the hike.  A gully wound near the path and Mark caved in first.  It’s a day off, dammit! I’m not here to impress anyone. I’m having a beer and sit-down.  He clambered off onto a boulder, and pulled out a sweating bottle and some buffalo jerky, offering some to Gunther.

“Wuss.”  He ambled over and took the jerky, and a beer.  “Good jerky.”  He grunted.

“This from a man whose favorite food is plain mashed potatoes and chicken-noodle concrete.”

The unapologetic Midwesterner flashed a white grin and gnawed at his meat leather.  They sat, drinking the beers and eating in amiable guy-silence, and then packed in the

bottles and started back on the path.  Mark stood a moment longer looking at the gully that had been a stream before the drought.  Desiccated grey-green algae, like the crusted blood of a naiad, clung to the face of the rocks in the center, and sun-bleached twigs and debris choked in a winding line up and down the mountain in either direction.  It looked like someone had dragged Jenny Greenteeth into the sun and baked her until she shriveled against the rocks.  A couple of papery minnows lay in the granite nooks, like those Japanese dried fish snacks.  As he started to turn back to the path, she moved, just enough out of the lee of a crag that he could see her diaphanous green hair.  Her hollow moss-colored eyes peered at him as she moved sluggishly back into the shadows, the detritus behind her visible, as her long black talons withdrew into the merciful shade.  He blinked, pulled out the beer bottle, sniffed the mouth, and put it back, and then turned on his heel and followed the dust motes to where Gunther had gone.

“Do you ever wonder what happens to the creeks up here?”  Mark caught up, panting.

“What do you mean?”

“When they dry out.”

“They always dry out in the winter, we’re a high sierra state.”

“But it’s May, and we’re in the mountains.”

“Yeah, but it only snowed early this year, not recently.  Dillon Reservoir was down by half since a couple years ago.  The boats were all clustered in the middle, with LOTS of beach that wasn’t there before.  It looked pretty wild.  Like a little kid pulled the plug out of the bathtub.”

“That’s exactly it.  What happens, I mean, don’t you think we’re in trouble?”

“Sure.  We’ve been in trouble for years.  That’s why we get all the cool rebates for putting in low water stuff in our houses.  I got two new toilets for 50 bucks, and got in great with my wife!”  He waggled his eyebrows.

“Glad to know the drought’s improved the frequency of your booty calls.”

“It doesn’t count as a booty call if she’s married to you.  But thank you!  Look, this happens every ten years or so.  Next year, we’ll probably get totally buried in a blizzard and the levels will be back to normal.  That’s the way it works.  You wanna change it, talk to the golfing snow birds in Arizona.  Get our water rights back.”

A crane fly floated by, and disappeared into the parched shadows of the woods.

“What the hell, did you see the size of that mosquito?!  How is it there’s no water, and there’s still mosquitos.  If that isn’t a sign the world’s gone to hell…”

“It’s not a mosquito, city boy.  It just looks like one.  They don’t bite.”

“Well, that’s good because it’d suck us dry in five minutes. Thing was huge!”

“Actually, they do that on purpose, fly around like mosquitoes to get all the whiny little girls to flee the outdoors.”

Mark kicked pebbles at him.  “Ok Ranger Sven, let me know when you’ve finished skinnin’ the bear and building the log cabin.”

Another crane fly whirred gently around them, dancing in the lazy bright light, and vanished in the dappling at the edge of a stand of trees.  Mark glanced back and they were bobbing a few feet back.  For a second, as they flitted through a patch of shade, the slender thoraxes expanded and the proboscises shrunk, and a pair of homunculi hovered, observing them.  Then a breeze exhaled their delicate forms into the distance, sticklike legs dangling.

“Uh…”

They hiked in silence for a while.  Every few hundred feet, Mark would look back, and the crane flies were there, weaving among the brush, coming sometimes closer, sometimes farther.  Finally, the entrance to the tunnel loomed. He glanced back.  The flies were gone.

The famous Alpine Tunnel had been completed in the late 1800s as a cheaper and shorter way to get supplies and mail to and from Hancock, by burrowing right under the Continental Divide.  Over two miles hewn through stone and earth, reinforced by timber, costing what in those days was a small fortune.  By the mid-fifties, the nearby mining operations and the traffic that had accompanied them dried up.  And the passage was empty, except for hikers and sightseers.  The lighted entrance bore a sign:  East Entrance.  Proceed with caution.  The mouth yawned, and the timbered braces receded into the dim lighting like the ribcage of Jonah’s whale.  They looked up at the structure and stepped into the frigid dark.  It took their eyes a minute to adjust to the tiny amount of light put out by the bulbs.  Their breathing and footsteps echoed slightly, as they padded deeper down the long hallway, veering slightly here and there.

After a while, the slight buzz of voices emerged from farther down the tunnel, the other car, other hikers.  They followed the murmurs around bends in the tunnel, but the acoustics bounced the sound so it was hard to tell how close they were.  They seemed to be the same distance away as they had been a while ago.  Then the voices died away. So did the lights, leaving them in oppressive Stygian blackness.  The weight of tons of granite pressed in from all directions.

“What the FUCK!”  Gunther exploded, feeling for the rough wall.

Mark knelt and rummaged in the pack and drew out a wind-up LED flashlight.  The whir of the torch filled the passage, along with a weak bluish light that grew stronger.  “Prepared.”

“Oh great, Mouseketeer, let’s get the fuck out of here before something else goes wrong.”

Mark rummaged again, drawing out the radio.  It spit back nothing but static.

Gunther rolled his eyes.

He pulled the GPS out and shot Gunther a smug look.  “Prepared.”

“Yeah, yeah!  I get it!  Why don’t we just go back the way we came.”

“Wanna make sure we are.”

He groaned in exasperation, and leaned back against the wall, arms crossed, waiting for Mark’s little experiment in technology.

Mark toyed with the controls, frowned, twirled a knob, turned towards the wall Gunther was leaning on, then stopped.

Gunther raised his eyebrows and started singing  “’I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map. I’M THE MAP!’” …So Dora the Explorer, what does Map say?”   He was grinning fiercely.

Mark grimaced. “It says the exit is here… this wall.”

“Awesome.  Do you have a magic ring or anything?  Maybe it can lead us to Mount Doom and an Eagle can fly us back.”

“Not helping!”  He resisted the urge to hurl the device against the wall, put it back in his bag, and stomped past Gunther.  “Alright. Seems like we came this way.”

“Sure you don’t want to consult your magic eight-ball some more?”

“Bite me.”

The unrelenting mountain sun sank towards the horizon, casting copper rays over the terrain, illuminating a wind-weathered sign at the mouth of the cave:  Tunnel Closed.  Danger of Collapse.  A rotten timber poked like a greenstick fracture from the edge of the darkness inside, a bare light socket peeking down from the craggy ceiling.

Back the way they had come was not opening up to the light at the end of the tunnel.  They hadn’t passed any other turnoffs, so they must get close soon.  At least, Mark thought, the flashlight doesn’t need batteries. That’s me, with the silver lining. Gunther’s face was grim as he paced a few steps back into the dark to peer at something he thought he’d seen.

Mark heard a slip, a short yelp, and Gunther was gone.  A thud came a moment later from far below.  And silence.  It took Mark a second to realize what had happened, and then he started yelling.

“Gunther!  Can you hear me?  Are you ok?  Yell if you can hear me!”

Heart thudding, limbs trembling, Mark shined the light in the direction Gunther had disappeared.  There was a slight pathway to the right that vanished into the dark.  How had they not seen this?!  The ground opened onto a gaping precipice.  The light didn’t reach the bottom.

He looked around trying to think about what to do next, maybe see if he could get down there, and abruptly stopped, adrenaline blazing through his veins.  Staring at him was a diminutive gray figure.  It was ancient and gnarled, with piercing dark eyes.  It wasn’t human.

“Who are you!”  Mark blazed.  “What do you want?  Wanna fight?!  Bring it!”

He fumbled a knife from his bag and realized it was a can opener.  He held the heavier end towards his assailant.  But the figure stood, silently regarding him.

Mark’s voice echoed in the corridor, tremulously.

“What do you want?  My friend just fell.  He’s hurt or dead.  Are you going to help me or not?”

The figure said nothing.  Mark edged toward the abyss.  He didn’t have a rope, and saw quickly that there was no way down without a rope.

“GUNTHER!”  He yelled one last time.

The creature glared at him and raised a knotty gray hand to its lips. “Shhhhh.”

There was nothing to do but go for help.  If he could even get out himself.  He stalked past the creature, who turned and followed him as he paced down the hall.  Finally he slowed, and then stopped.  He didn’t know which way was out.  The circumference of light bobbed to a halt, and Mark slid down to his butt in freezing dirt.  The creature

stopped just beyond the cone of illumination.  He looked up at it. It stared back at him.

“You going to help me get out?”

It didn’t answer.

“You don’t like the light?”

It shook its head.

“Don’t you talk?”

It stayed stock-still.  He moved the light against his leg so it wasn’t shining into the corridor, but there was no way he was turning it off.

“Three words, four syllables…sounds like…” he pantomimed Charades.  Its eyes looked puzzled.

Mark buried his face in his hands.

“Are you a ghost?” His voice came out muffled.

The figure glided swiftly to his side and a hand like the root of a bonsai tree grasped his arm.  Before Mark could leap out of his skin, there was a shock, images that weren’t from him, rushing into him.  That was how the creature talked.  He gazed at its grey eyes, flecked like opals.

“You’re not a ghost are you?”

Its eyes answered No.

“What are you?”

It felt confused for a moment.  Images came of blazing rock, congealing in swirls and crystals and heavy gravity.  Pressure cracked the great weight into fissures, ice cleaving through, water dripping.  The images were set in geologic time and thought like stone.  Then came the hammering and blasting, the chiseling, soft irritating people prying the veins of its home for metal, digging into

its fortress, and shattering the ponderous voices of the rock.  Miners, hats bobbing, women, traders, all passing through, leaving footprints that scuffed each other out for years, and then lingered when there were no more treads to replace them in the still close dust.  All it wanted was silence and solitude.  It thought, until they were gone.  The voice of the rock was all it had, until the harried frenetic intruders, who lived their lives so quickly and loudly.  Its knotted fingers clung to his arm, its eyes wistful.

“You didn’t mean to kill Gunther.”

It shook its head.

“You want me to stay with you for a little while?  I have to go.  But I’ll stay here for a few minutes longer.”  He shifted his weight on the dirt, where the cold was seeping through the seat of his pants.

Rescue operations continued for three days, until it was concluded that no one would be found, and the cars were towed.

End Story

 

If you’ve had any underground adventures that you want to share, please feel free to post!

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Tapping the Muse

Posted in horror, indie, indie authors, mythology, publishing, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2014 by rachelcoles

Hi Fellow Indies,

 

We’ve had a great week at my writer’s group talking about writer’s block and how to address it. Sometimes problems travel in clumps, and many of us had fallen prey to the writer’s block in the last few months, the bane of every writer’s existence. I write to relax and stay sane, and so not only is it a pain in the butt when I want to write something, but it literally messes with my sanity. Fortunately, I am part of a group that tries to help each other. We get together to critique each other’s work, and sometimes, we can use each other to shake things loose when we’re stuck. One of the things I think we all agree on collectively is that writing should be fun. It’s also hard. But if it stops being fun also, we’re doing it wrong. So one of the things we’re doing is making sure to write something at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, or the great American novel, or even a full story. It can be a scene, a conversation between two characters we make up on the spot, anything, as long as it’s fun to write. And fun for writers could be something that makes us laugh or even cry. Maybe ‘engaging’ would be a better word than ‘fun’. We need to write something that we enjoy writing that makes us not want to stop until it’s on the page.

Throughout history, writer’s block or if you aren’t a writer, creative blocks of all kinds have plagued people who wanted to create expression. The Greeks had nine goddesses who were in charge of such inspiration, and as many gods and goddesses were, they were known for their capricious nature, feeding artists and musicians music with divine origin at times, and abandoning them and taking their inspiration with them at others. The expression in which someone says such a person, ‘is my Muse’, and the term ‘music’ come from these goddesses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemnosyne (lord of the Sky, and Memory):

Clio–Muse of History

Euterpe–Muse of lyric song

Melpomene–Muse of tragedy

Terpsichore–Muse of Dance

Erato–Muse of erotic poetry (my guess is a bit more significant than ‘There once was a man from Nantucket…’)

Polyhymnia–Muse of sacred song

Urania–Muse of astronomy

Thalia–Muse of comedy

I think it’s interesting that they were born of sky and memory, because people have been getting inspiration from looking at the sky for thousands of years, and it takes an act of will and the synthesis of emotion and memory to generate works of art or scientific inspiration that hold meaning for people.

But as with the nature of most gods and goddesses, inspiration can be dark. In Celtic lore, the Leanan Sidhe was thought of as a Muse, who inspired poets, but there was a price. She was also vampiric, sucking the life energy of those she inspired. The next story: The Muse, was based on this idea.

 

The Muse

Rivulets of dark pungent water fanned across the rock, leaving a damp organic smell behind. The moon set beyond the deserted park, leaving only the sodium park lights near the Platte River to compete with the more distant city lights in the LoDo condo neighborhoods. But where the river met the rock, under the diseased elms, the shadows were inky physical things. The rivulets across the rock writhed and surged in black ribbons like the hair of a nymph. The river exhaled gray vapor into the air that smelled like the bottom of a lake. Eliza sat by a tangle of shrubs at the edge of the rock, ruminating about her student debt for the millionth time that day, for the millionth time that year. Pinpoints of light danced in the water.

The miasma pooled around her in the air like spectral congregants to a midnight church. Before she had to return to the dry dusty track home, she basked in the sudden humidity of the night river and inhaled the mist. It slid down her throat like silk. Her vision became blurry as the lights in the water doubled and she fell asleep beside the rising stream. When she woke, the morning star was shining. Her cheek was wet where the water had seeped up onto the rock where she lay. There was no indication of how she had fallen asleep, or why.

She had been pounding coffee since noon. Her mother’s voice rang in her head reminding her of how people drown in an inch of water. Her pad was open to a drawing she didn’t remember creating. But it was dark and she couldn’t see very well. She could barely make out the shapes of figures on the page as she peered at it in the pre-dawn light. The swaths of charcoal shifted and flowed across the page into spirals and eddies. Lighter patches here and there looked like eyes. She shivered in the early morning chill, pushed herself up, gathered her supplies, and climbed up to the footpath for the hike to the Light Rail.
One of the bulbs was out in the dingy kitchen of her Lipan Street apartment when she flicked it on. She tossed her pad and supplies on the kitchen table, pulled a chair up and replaced the bulb. She glanced down at the table and almost fell backwards off the chair. The drawing that had been barely visible earlier was a wash of dark shapes that still looked like they shifted if you glanced at another part of the page. The one certainty fixed at points throughout the page were pale faces caught in various poses of agony, fear and despair, like souls trapped trying to escape Tartarus.
She slowly righted the chair and stared at the notebook and tried to remember drawing it.

#

Jobie padded into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Eliza as she was making coffee later that morning, and nuzzled her thin brown braids. “What the hell were you dreaming about after you finally got in? And where were you so late? I was starting to think I’d have to retrieve you from a crack den or something.”

She turned and swatted him.

He grinned, “And then when you came to bed, you beat the snot out of me in your sleep. I’ll have to start sleeping with my old football pads.”

She lightly bit him on the nose, and then wiped her lips on the kitchen towel. “Ew! Did you take your allergy pill this morning? Your nose is all drippy.”

He laughed. “Don’t blame me, Lassie.” He let her go and blew his runny nose on a piece of toilet paper. “Seriously, you ok? I know you been worrying all the time.”

“I’m fine. What are you talking about?”

“You just had some real whoppers of nightmares. I tried to wake you but you just screamed. You had your eyes open and everything. You stared straight at me. I almost called 911. I’m surprised no one did call. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about our neighbors, in case of a real emergency. ‘No Officer, I didn’t hear nuthin, or see the ax-murderer leaving their house covered in blood, with all of their belongings…’ I was about to call, and then you stopped, and started snoring like nothing had happened. You don’t remember any of this?”

She shook her head and frowned into his earnest brown eyes. “I used to get night terrors when I was a kid, but that was twenty years ago, when I was like four.”

“Did your parents drink? Cuz I sure needed a stiff one after that. Are you sure you’re ok?” He hugged her close. “I’ve been planning to tell my boss to fuck off for a day anyway. I want to see how long that unit lasts without me.”

She shoved him toward the shower. “Go get dressed for work. I’m sorry I woke you, but I won’t be the reason you lose your job in this economy.” Her fingers wandered to the edge of her sketch pad and she just stood frozen in thought as the coffee water boiled.

#

She dodged a frustrated driver trying to park in a spot too small, as she scooted across the street from the station to Auraria campus. The studio was cool in the summer heat as she set up her clay and tools and got to work. Her fingers tingled and the sculpture took shape as though the shape of the piece was flowing out of her hands. When it stood done, it was a long vaguely human form like the statues dubbed the ‘dancing aliens’, outside the Denver Performing Arts Center across the street. But this bore only a passing resemblance to that piece. This solitary form was fluid with curves, like a humanoid shape that was part amoeba. Tendrils from its palms reached out for contact to anyone, anything who glanced at it. It looked strangely hungry.

Mr. Catan, the teacher, wandered over and studied it, and noted the same thing. “You certainly have created a stirring piece.” He smiled at her, “Almost Dali-esque.”

Yeah, stirring, she thought, glancing away from his upswept 50’s greaser hairdo and skater-punk t-shirt three decades too young for him. Just like Hustler is stirring, she edged away and started smoothing the figure’s shoulders with a sponge.

But he didn’t move on to the other pieces. “What were you thinking of when you created this? It looks…lonely, empty.”

As soon as she stepped back from it, she saw that he was right. It did look lonely. Need seeped off of it, reaching for her. She gasped and backed up into the wall.
Mr. Catan laughed and nodded at her reaction. “Well, wherever you got this idea from, you had some kind of inspiration. There was a time when artists who created things like this believed they had been touched by the Muse, or fed upon by her. It depended on their perspective. Men gave their lives to her. Or at least, they gave pieces of themselves. Van Gogh, Pygmalion…what did you give to create this?”
Creep, she thought.

He smiled, “You should enter this in the student exhibit when it’s finished.”

Suddenly, she felt bad at her knee-jerk reaction. He was just trying to help.

The Orphan, its name came to her as he walked away. The curves of the statue almost seemed to lean after him, the vacant eye depressions gazing into the back of his neck. She hurriedly cleaned up her materials, and went to her next class, as the statue faced the door.

#

When she came back to the sculpture the next day, Mr. Catan had moved it to the side of the room to make space for a metal-sculpting class. She uncovered it and her impression of it being ’empty’ dissipated. The atmosphere it created was different now. Maybe its paler color as it dried had changed the feel. It seemed animate, almost sentient. But it no longer felt empty and she almost wished that it had. The head had only the slightest depressions for eyes and merely a sloping rise for a nose, and yet, it had an expression. As she finished the fine details, it still looked lonely, like the embodiment of loneliness, but now it somehow looked full.
Ms. Teague, the visual design teacher, stood off to the side, watching the progress of the shapes taking form in the classroom.

“Ms. Teague? Where’s Mr. Catan?” Eliza asked.

She shook her head, a couple grey bobby-pinned curls escaping. “He didn’t come in today.”

“Is he sick?” The hair on the back of Eliza’s neck stood and she positioned herself so she couldn’t see The Orphan.

Ms. Teague frowned, “I assume so. The office is having me fill in. Do you need anything?”

“No, thanks. Just wondering.” Eliza wandered back to her work area. The Orphan’s form seemed to occupy the room as a crowd of admirers gathered around it.

“Wow, this is really cool. I wish I could make something like this.” Wendy, the wispy Gothic girl of the class whose works all had a Tim Burton-esque look to them, twirled her long black locks.
Her lanky partner, shifted his skull-and-crossbones suspenders. “Yeah, you should enter it in the exhibit. Or a gallery. My brother has a friend who owns a gallery on Santa Fe. He’d probably take it. He don’t pay much though, but people’d see it. This needs to be seen.”

Wendy touched it gently, “May I?”

Eliza shrugged. “Sure. Just be careful.”

The girl nodded, “Funny, it seems like it wants to be touched.” She drew her hand away suddenly and then replaced it again. “It’s warm. Like it’s alive.” She smiled, her red lips stretching into a white smile, “Gives me some new ideas,” and she wandered back to her work area.

Eliza just sat back in bewilderment at The Orphan’s popularity until the students trickled away to their own projects. She added and polished, and couldn’t get away from its warm suppleness and the sense that it felt everything she did to it.

#

Jobie squeezed her, and popped another pig in a blanket into his mouth. He washed it down with another plastic cup of wine and said through a mouthful, “Congratulations, Babe! Wow, my girlfriend won an award from the student exhibit.”

Crowds trickled into the gallery from the street. As the servers moved to the greet them, Jobie snagged another handful of appetizers. She frowned as she peered around. He leaned back and peered at The Orphan. “Wow, it really is something else. It feels like its watching me. What inspired it, was it your creepy greaser sculpture teacher? Those tentacle-thingees in its palms make me think he did a little too much stroking the monkey. You know what they say about that. And your statue’s blind too,” he tipped one of his teetering cups to The Orphan.

Eliza almost shot wine through her nose as she laughed. “I think that’s the four cups of booze you’ve had in the last hour. Not the sculpture.” Eliza smirked.

He looked offended. “No, I’m eating food with my alcohol.” He stuffed three sausage-filled mushrooms into his mouth to emphasize his point. “You gotta live a little, Babe! It’s your art. You painting and sculpting and stuff, that’s the first time I’ve seen you relax a little and express yourself. You’re always so practical, like Spock. Join your own party for a change!” He poked a breaded sausage at her mouth.

She waved him off, and then thought better of it. She grabbed his cup of wine and downed it, and then another.

“See, that’s it!” he beamed.

She basked in the glow as people flocked around the statue. These art classes had been electives to fill in for some liberal arts core requirements. They had been a pragmatic choice, since it seemed like an easy grade. Maybe this could be a second career for me, she thought, but it won’t pay as well as business administration, and at least that’s steady. But now, it was turning out to be satisfying in other ways. It was the first time she had ever felt…expressed. There were other things in life besides a steady paycheck and security. Maybe Jobie was right.

She wrapped her arms around Jobie’s paunchy middle and enjoyed the attention for the rest of the evening while he did all the talking and bragging for her.

She glanced around and frowned. It had been the one sour point in the evening, reminding them of the situation unfolding on campus. Mr. Catan was missing. He had been reported a couple days prior, and it had been on the news. No trace of his whereabouts had been found, the news had said. The university had been silent on any details of the investigation. While she hadn’t much liked him, she hoped he was alright, hoped he hadn’t fled from some heinous crime they had yet to discover. And, she thought, a little selfishly, she wished he had been here to see her piece opening in the gallery.

#

As they returned home, her sketch pad slid to the floor of the train and Jobie picked it up. “Let’s see what Michelangelo’s been cooking up on paper? You never showed me these.” He flipped slowly through the pages of fruit and nature scenes, and then stopped abruptly at the charcoal she had puzzled over two weeks previously from her nap by the stream.

“Whoa…” His soft drunk brown eyes focused on her. A flash of fear floated through them, and then was subsumed again in the haze of alcohol. “Left turn into dark. Which one of these is not like the others? When did you do this?”

She reached for it, and studied it again, swallowing on a lump of apprehension in her throat. “Last week, Tuesday. The day I had the night terrors.”

“No wonder.”

She sighed, “No, night terrors aren’t dreams. They don’t happen in REM sleep. It’s during deep sleep. That’s why no one remembers anything when they have a night terror. They aren’t dreaming or seeing anything.”
“Well, one physiology class and look who knows everything about the brain. I’ll make you a bet that in ten years, they come out with another study that says the exact opposite, just like they did with the study saying fat is bad for you, and then that we need it for brain function. Make up your mind, people!”

She laughed and pushed at his ample chest.”When they said fat is necessary, I don’t think that ten bags of pork rinds a day were what they meant.”

He shrugged and his eyes slid back to the picture. “I’m just saying. Something scared the hell out of you, and this picture scares the hell out of me.” He tapped it, “But it’s really interesting. Interesting and creepy sells. You should get it entered into a contest or put it on an art website or something. Maybe we could win the rent money. And then I could go tell my boss to fuck off for good.”

She smirked and packed the pad away in her bag. “The scary picture’s gone now. And I’ll think about it. There’s a scanner in the student aid office. Maybe they’ll let me use it. In the meantime, you’ll just have to keep being the loathed IT guy until the gravy train comes in.” They linked arms and walked to the station.

#

The studio lit up as she entered, the first one there. She had an extra hour between work at the coffee shop and sculpture class. The block of clay felt cool and satiny underneath her hands as she wet it and began working. The slip glided through her fingers as a shape formed. Other students filtered in. A ring of students gazed at the emerging creation, and then set up their own stations, glancing back at her every so often. Ms. Teague watched her with a pensive look, but said nothing and just let her work, commenting here and there on other students’ pieces.

About ten minutes before class ended, Eliza stepped back from the bench and brought herself from her reverie to look at the sculpture from a distance. It was not even remotely humanoid. There were shoots emerging from piles of loops that looked like internal organs, and hands, dozens of tiny hands and mouth indentations lined with buds like tongues.
Gothic Wendy’s voice startled her, “Girlfriend did some LSD last night.” She stared at the grotesque sculpture. “It looks hungry. But I like it. One brush with celebrity and you go right off the rails.” She smirked at Eliza.

“Don’t go cutting off any body parts to mail to your boyfriend.”

Eliza frowned. It did look hungry somehow, and it wasn’t just the mouths. It had the same vacant feel to it as The Orphan had started with, as though it were waiting. Eliza covered it up and left for her Developmental Psych class.

#

At the end of the semester a couple weeks later, she brought her new piece home, when they emptied their things from the studio. Jobie gaped at it as Eliza partly uncovered it on the hand truck, to undo the cords holding it.

“It’s…unique, in a Crypt Keeper meets the Return of the Living Dead kind of way. What’s this one called? ‘Your Insides on Pork Rinds?'”

She tilted her head at it, while flicking Jobie’s ear. And the name came to her. Bacchus’ End, she realized, like the Baccanalians and their festivities. It was like a mass of senses feeding on itself.
He patted her on the back. “Good job, Queen of Darkness. If you go whip up some grub, I’ll get this unloaded and start the folding the laundry.” He turned the TV on.

As she kissed him and went into the kitchen, she could almost feel the tongues questing and the mouths opening and closing on the scents in the air and the hands reaching for something, anything. About twenty minutes later, the hamburger helper casserole was done and she went into the TV room to catch their regular episode of Bones with Jobie. But he wasn’t there.

“Job? Hey Job?” The television was still on and she lowered the volume. She poked her head in their bedroom, but the rumpled Snoopy sheets were empty. The bathroom door was open and dark. She peered out the window to see if he might be coming from the store. But the only folks she saw were heading to or from the Osage station.

She texted him. A buzz from the counter showed her his phone. She called their friends, his work and anyplace else she could think of where he might have gone. But he wasn’t there, and it didn’t seem likely that he would have just gone without telling her, especially not just before dinner. Finally, she called the police, to say that something must have happened to him, though she couldn’t imagine how. They came and took her statement, and gave the statue an odd glance as they left. She sat on the couch and cried.

Like The Orphan, it seemed different in the dim light of the living room lamp. It had seemed vacant before, but now, though the statue seemed hungry still, it seemed more…present, inhabited. She shuddered and threw the couch blanket over it and went to bed.

She cried until she fell asleep. Every hour she woke and felt the lump of blankets to see if Jobie had come in. He didn’t, and the phone never rang.

#

His side of the bed was still empty in the morning. She pulled her knees to her chest and just rocked for a while. At ten o’clock, she called in sick to the coffee shop. She stared at the screen for a couple hours. He’ll be back from wherever. Those people on TV always come back. Look, those talk show guests have it much worse, they’re throwing shoes at each other. God, where the hell is he? I know there was nothing wrong between us? Was he mad at me? No, he would never just leave me like this, wondering. Oh God, something had to have happened!

She went around and around like that, as the television droned on. Finally, she shut it off. The silence in the apartment was unbearable. Baccus’ End waited under the cloth which she had left over it. She could almost hear it breathe with its many mouths, and feel the pulse of its blood. She grabbed her bag and left, slamming the door behind her.

As she crossed the walking bridge over I-25, she spotted a sculpture she had never noticed before, though she remembered dimly that it had been there for as long as she had been in Colorado. Jobie had snarked about it constantly, because it was the singularly most hideous incomprehensible thing she had ever seen. It looked like a giant pile of red gory jelly beans that had melted and stuck together.

At night, the fine citizens of Denver were treated to its full effect as it was lit from within, so the dribbles of red paint down its side looked like the innards of a demon that had been put through a Star Trek transporter accident. She walked up to it now and touched the cherry red protuberances. And quickly pulled her hand away as they pulsed faintly under her hand. The electrical source used to light the monstrosity must have been buzzing, she thought, but didn’t try to touch it again. ‘Crimson Love’, it was named. Now she had to shut her eyes and press her fingers into her sockets, as a sexual connotation was added to the demon intestine image.
She sighed, checked her phone again in case Jobie called, and headed down the path to the river.

When she got there, she pulled her pad out of her bag, tore the charcoal drawing out and ripped it into pieces, smearing charcoal across her hands. The feeling of loathing she got as she looked at it was irrational, she knew. I still don’t remember drawing that. What if I didn’t? All this started after that strange night. What if it’s the drawing? What if it let something in? Or what if something else drew it and cursed me? Everything went wrong after that.

She thought about the sequence of events. She had never been a artistic prodigy, so why all of the sudden had she suddenly started drawing and sculpting pieces that got people’s attention so strongly? A chill ran down her spine as she thought about the lights in the water that night. What if I did draw it, and whatever was here that night got into me? What are those things I’m creating?

She shivered, and threw the shredded picture in the water. The shreds hit a stagnant pocket of water behind a brake of river debris, so the shreds just eddied around instead of being swept away. As the water soaked through the paper, the images ran and blended together. The eyes in the paper rolled and the faces convulsed and then they were gone. The river exhaled a belch of vegetal air and the breeze whistled a sigh around her ears and through her hair.

Someone wandered by with a dog. It was friendly and explored Eliza with a wet nose, a snort and a wag of its coppery tail.

“Sorry. Down, Chassie! I’m Meg.” She held out her hand.

Eliza shook it. “It’s ok.” She ran her fingers through the dog’s fur and let his drooling tongue comfort her. A tear leaked down her face.

“Are you ok?” Meg came and squatted by her.

She nodded. “I’m just having a bad day. Your dog is nice.” “Well, I hope things get better. You’re an artist? That’s pretty good!” The gray-haired woman peered at the picture exposed in her pad now that the dark charcoal was gone. It was an ordinary mountain scene in watercolors.

Eliza nodded, “Well, I’m taking a class. It was fun, but lately…it feels like it’s been kind of taking over.”

The woman smiled, her crafted earrings swinging as she spoke, “Touched by the Muse, eh? That’s how one of my artist friends in Sedona talked about her art. Like it came from someone else besides her. She also said the liquor fairy breathed life into the things she made. If she stopped drinking and partying, her art started to suffer.” She laughed. “Listen to me, You’re not underage are you? How old are you?”
“Twenty-four.”

Meg batted her hand in the air. “Ah, you’re legal. Anyway, you just look so serious. I’m not saying you should go get liquored up or anything. Just don’t forget to have some fun, eat and drink, before the time goes by, and you get to my age.” The dog began pulling the woman away. “Nice meeting you.”

“You too,” Eliza nodded. She sat until the sun set, not wanting to face her empty apartment. Jobie hadn’t called. The police hadn’t called either. Their friends only called to check in with her and make sure she was alright.
Her fear of the art pieces seemed silly now. Despite the woman’s talk of spirits, it seemed more firmly in the realm of folklore. The police will figure it out. Just let him be ok.

She dangled her feet in the river as the light faded. The trickle and the crystal cool swell around her shins was comforting. The sand swirled around her toes and shaped into furrows around her feet. She flopped out of the water and found a stick, and sat where the beach met a lazy part of the river, next to the sitting rock. There she drew spirals in the sand until the stick broke. Nothing was strange about the doodles. They were just swirls of sand. Just to prove her point she took handfuls of the sand and built a little mound with a moat.

The water shimmered and lapped at her fingers like little velvet tongues and deepened in the moat. The sound of the waves were hypnotic. The twinkles of light in the water were so beautiful and cool. They whispered and sang in high sweet voices that everything would be fine as a cool mist kissed her eyelashes. She relaxed and let the sand settle around her feet and arms. Something in the back of her mind was screaming at her to move, but the troubles with Jobie would still be waiting, and one more minute in the water felt nice.

Her arms had sunk into the sand and dark water. The waning moon was barely a sliver in the sky. The sodium lamps didn’t penetrate the mist that had risen in the trench of the river where Eliza crouched in the pungent water and drank, as the heat ebbed from her limbs.

#

A dog sniffed around the new sandstone sculpture by the sitting rock, and decided that it was not a good candidate for marking his territory. It was too…alive.
The squat amphibious creature sat, almost in the water. It looked like it was made of eyes. The eyes covered its head in clusters, even lining its wide full lips, as though it were a creature that was always watching the world from the sidelines. Long columns of stone drooped down its hunched form, almost like brown thin-braided river-weed hair. And it was surrounded by silence and sadness. Insects moved and chattered about, and the river flowed as always, but there was a stillness around it that dampened the air. As though it were waiting to breathe. Another dog’s owner trotted over. “What the hell is that? What a weird place to put a statue,” her ponytail bobbed as she jogged around it.

The jogger’s companion took a swig from her water bottle and kept jogging in place on the rock. “Have you ever looked around Denver? We’re in the city of weird sculptures. It’s that push to be ‘cosmopolitan’ whatever that means. I think it means you’re acceptably hoity-toity if you have weird art. Haven’t you ever noticed the ‘cosmopolitan’ statues around the city?”

“True. Like that demon horse with the red eyes outside the Denver Airport. There’s something I want to see before I get on a plane. I heard the artist died just before he finished it.”

“Actually, it killed him. That’s what I heard.”

The first woman snapped her fingers at the dog and the two women sprinted up the slope to the trail and ran on.

End Story

 

After all of the depictions of Muses, what is your favorite? Which one are you most affected by? How do you get past your own blocks and lure the Muses back into your life?

Life After National Novel Writing Month—Not Losing Your Go

Posted in book reviews, indie, mythology, publishing, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by rachelcoles

So, time for the final nag: Well, NaNoWriMo is finally over, did you get your 50,000 words, didja, didja, didja?

My answer: Not even close.

And while some people understandably feel like they want to throw their pens in the air in despair, (or much more expensively, their computers), I’m not feeling bad at all. No, I didn’t win a t-shirt, or a bag of candy. But my daughter’s still sharing her Halloween candy with me, and since Thanksgiving is over and I’m staring down the barrel at the holidays, the last thing I need is candy. And ThinkGeek.com is going to suck all of my drawer space for t-shirts anyway.

So what now? What does the universe look like after NaNoWriMo, after the latest greatest writing revolution. For some people, there are a bunch of new exciting novels to work on editing. For other slow-pokes like me, what was the value of NaNoWriMo?

Well, I’m 20,000 words ahead of where I would have been otherwise. For a full-time public health professional, mom, and daydreaming sci-fi watching goof-off, that’s a lot. Like most people who try to cram way too much into their day without the benefit of Hermione Granger’s Time Turner or Doctor Who’s Tardis, my typical day is that when I finally get time to pull out my story and write, instead I find myself staring into space drooling, or watching TV, or discovering twenty other things I need to do. And so for me, showing up at a restaurant with a bunch of other people who are studiously ticking away at their keyboards and urging me to join their writing sprint, is really inspiring. It gets me to focus by giving me sanctioned time to write, and taking away most of my excuses for goofing around instead. There’s only so many times I can go to get brownies at the counter, or refill my soda, or run to the bathroom. Sooner or later, I sit and I write. I start to relax and words start pouring out, and at the end of the night, I’m happy.

The other great thing about NaNoWriMo is that I have ‘permission to suck’. So I don’t need to obsess over whether or not what I wrote was ‘good’. Who cares, for now? That’s what copy and paste are for, that’s what editing is for. I was thrilled to get a book published, but one thing that I didn’t count on was the paralysis afterwards of ‘what do I do now, what if the second one’s no good?’ So while I love writing and telling stories, it started to become more about whether someone else would like it than whether or not I would. In short, I started worrying too much, the way I worry about everything else. I didn’t even realize the transition until I realized that I was getting nervous about writing. The last time I got nervous about writing was when I was preparing to defend my master’s thesis in front of a committee. While that was buckets of fun, I’m not interested in doing that again.

So the benefits of NaNoWriMo were for me:

  1. I wrote more than I would have.
  2. I really enjoyed writing again.

Where do we go from here? Well, the great thing about writing is that sometimes it’s kind of like trying on the jeans you kept from high school, when you’re trying to lose weight and seeing that your hard work paid off and you went down two sizes. If you were having trouble starting a novel idea, and you see that you suddenly wrote seven chapters in four weeks, you want to finish it. Good stuff picks up momentum, and so NaNoWriMo is a great creative feeding frenzy that can suck you in if you let it, and propel you through the rest of the novel you want to write. At least, that’s what I hope it will do for me. I am now in the middle of Chapter 12 of the sequel to Pazuzu’s Girl. Wish me luck, and good luck finishing up your own NaNo novels!

New Release! Pestilence by Jeani Rector

Posted in book reviews, history, horror, indie with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by rachelcoles

As a public health worker, I was excited to pick up Pestilence, by Jeani Rector. And I was not disappointed. Whenever I pick up a book in which disease is a big feature in the story, I often get ready to pick it apart if it’s not someone who has a background in infectious disease, because I’m kind of a jerk like that. But there wasn’t much to pick at. Ms. Rector has clearly done a lot of research, not just about the disease and its history, but about the conditions of London and the feudal system. And she does something that few authors do so well as this author does: show how all of the different conditions contributed to the perfect storm. I’m a medical anthropologist. I have little snippets of knowledge about very specific things, but I’ll confess that medieval history, names and dates, are not my forte. I struggled to stay awake in history class as soon as dates and names of people started droning from my teachers’ mouths. But if I had had a book like this when I was in school, I would have remembered every history lesson. Not only does she explain the history of the Black Death, but each of her characters was alive and engaged me in caring about what happened to them, whether that was holding my breath hoping that the heroine survives, or wanting to stab the bad guys and rub fleas all over them. She has created a living history. I would use this book to teach because bringing events to life is the best way to engage people and make them remember.

You can find out more about Pestilence at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can learn more about Jeani Rector at the Horror Zine, a very cool online horror zine. You can also like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Ereshkigal and the Persephone Myth

Posted in history, horror, indie, mythology, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by rachelcoles

One of the most fascinating characters to me in myth, Sumerian or otherwise, is Ereshkigal. For people who know me, this might seem obvious. Queen of the Underworld, zombies, dead people, ghosts. I have make-believe zombie preparedness posters in my office at work. However, my love of all things morbid and creepy is not the key reason I’m interested in Ereshkigal.

Many people do not see her as a sympathetic character. Like most other gods in mythology everywhere, she is vicious, cunning, vengeful, all of the delightful qualities of ancient gods. But if you know her whole story, suddenly, the reasons for her ruthlessness take on a different tone.

She did not begin as a dark frightening goddess of the dead. By all accounts, her story began very much like Persephone’s. She began as a young beautiful maiden sun goddess. Until she was raped, abducted, and dragged to the Underworld by a dragon named Kur, at least in one version he is a dragon. In others he is a mountain. At one point, the Underworld is referred to as Kur…Until, unlike the demure Persephone, she kicked her rapist’s ass and took over the Underworld. From this point on, the Underworld is referred to by one of her other names, Irkalla. This seemed to mark the shift in dominance. If Persephone had been depicted differently than she was, rather in the same way as Ereshkigal, it would have ended with her kicking Hades’ ass, and renaming the Greek Underworld Persephone. Ereshkigal was not going to be content with becoming the consort of some controlling jerk. She was going to take his stuff and kick him to the curb.

So basically, she starts as a rape victim, and instead of succumbing to the fate someone else was forcing upon her, decides somehow to use her circumstances to her advantage and create her own future. I don’t know about anyone else, but that is much more interesting to me than just her label as the goddess of the Underworld, it was how she got there. Like Thelma and Louise, told the Addams Family way, and with a happy ending.

Though I didn’t go into her backstory in Pazuzu’s Girl, I made a reference to it, when she told JD that she would look after his abused mother when the woman died, because she ‘understood what it was to feel powerless’.

I’m now writing a sequel to Pazuzu’s Girl, in which Ereshkigal’s origin story will be told from her point of view.

I can’t help but wonder if she were a real woman today, she would probably be jailed for doing the things she does, and then there would be protests for her by feminist groups, Facebook campaigns with her face representing women’s rights. Interesting to think of the tropes we see throughout history showing up in different ways, perceived differently in different ages.

YA Indie Carnival: Friday the 13th

Posted in horror, indie, romance fantasy, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by rachelcoles

Today’s YA Indie Carnival post is about none other than…Friday the 13th. Of course it is. It’s like crack to us sometime horror writers. However despite juicy movies and uses in fiction, what is the real basis for Friday the 13th superstitions?

No one really knows. It did not show up much in references prior to the 19th century. One speculation was that since twelve was a number indicated as complete: twelve tribes of Israel, twelve months of year, twelve hours etc, that one more may be viewed as excess and unbalanced, like having three people on a date.

Friday has often been cited as an unlucky day for travel. I do not know why. Though, I’m sure the people who are mauled in increasing numbers on Black Friday sales would probably agree that Friday, despite being the most awesome day of the workweek is not such a great day when people act like psychos. Though this misfortune can be attributed to humans who have no common sense or ethical values rather than divine influence. My husband has an aunt who was actually mugged by a woman for the mini-television she had unassumingly picked up to buy. And this was in a tiny town in upper Michigan.

For Jews and Muslims, Friday is anything but unlucky. For Jews, Friday evening is the start of the Sabbath, since our days weirdly start in the evening. And for Muslims, Friday is also the Sabbath, though I think theirs is during the day on Friday. Anyone who is a working mom will say that a day of rest is never a bad thing.

By itself, Friday was named after Frigga or Freya from the Norse pantheon. Freya was from the Vanir, a class of Norse deity with different origins than the Aesir, though what those differences were was never clear to me. She was attributed as being a love goddess. This doesn’t sound so unlucky, unless of course you’ve just been dumped. She is also attributed as being a goddess of fertility, beauty, and war. She received half of all the souls killed on the battlefield at her hall Folkvangr. This association with violence and death, could lend itself to the perception of ill fortune, especially since Nordic warriors’ goals seemed to be Valhalla, Odin’s hall, instead. I suppose if you die and the afterlife bus takes you to New Jersey instead of Hollywood, it might be cause for discontent.

I suppose that like any superstition, it depends on whose point of view you have.

See what else Freaky Friday reveals in our fellow authors’ blogs!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. Heather Self 4. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga 6. Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy
7. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 8. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
9. Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series 10. Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
11. Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews 12. Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
13. M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping 14. Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind
15. Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls 16. Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler
17. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 18. TG Ayer
19. Melissa Pearl, Author of The Time Spirit Trilogy 20. Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
21. Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover 22. Courtney Cole Writes

And here’s What’s New! There are some exciting new releases, so get your Kindle and your bowl of popcorn ready!

New Podcast! My radio interview about Pazuzu’s Girl on Journal Jabber: Demons Got Your Tongue?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/journaljabber/2012/04/11/demons-got-your-tongue

NEW RELEASES!

 

Soul Bound by Courtney Cole

The gods are playing games again and this time it’s going to get ugly. 

Empusa is the daughter of the goddess of witchcraft and the moon.  As a child of the moon, she has all of the ethereal lunar powers that come with it.  She is beautiful, vulnerable and strong.  But since she is cursed by her father to drink souls and mortal blood, her powers will come back to haunt her…

Brennan is the son of Apollo, the god of the sun.  As a child of the sun, he is handsome, golden, brave and strong.  He’s just learning to harness his own immortal powers, only there isn’t much time…

There’s an ugly, twisted storm brewing on Olympus and Brennan and Em are in the center of it.  Their powers are conflicting, polar opposites.  If they can’t learn to handle their abilities without killing each other, they will kill everyone in the mortal world, as well.  Time is ticking and the gods are watching.  Who will rise, who will fall and who will be left standing?

 

She escaped, but she’ll never be free. 

 

December and Lilly have got their work cut out for them. Not only are they desperately trying to figure out the identity of the Lost Soul, and track him down, they’ve also got to investigate why Powell River’s newest resident has got all of their men falling at her feet.
But when they learn that the Nephilim might be involved, it becomes clear that they’re all in extreme danger…


 

Rhoe and Ashley would never be friends.
Even if they lived on the same planet.
But, they’ll become so much more.
They’ll transfer.

THIS ENHANCED EBOOK CONTAINS LINKS
TO THE MUSIC, STORIES, PHOTOS & VIDEOS THAT
INSPIRED THE STORY.
 

A magical game of Hide n Seek begins.
Find the missing player and win.
The game resets; everyone forgets and starts to play again.


 
Seventeen-year-old Fresco Conte is an ordinary All-American kid from an upper middle-class family. He plays football. His girlfriend is a cheerleader. Life is good. Until unexplained things, scary things, start to take him over. Like surviving an accident that should have killed him. Or hearing the thoughts of the people around him whether he wants to or not. When the men in the dark blue coveralls come for him, Fresco is forced into addiction to the blue joy known as Wasteland and set free on the street, with no answers and only his hunger to keep him company.   

 

Last Stand is no more and Fresco is left to pick up the pieces. With his damaged brother Daniel stashed for safe keeping, Fresco and the old scientist Medley gather the remaining survivors and do their best to protect them. But the Garbagemen have other ideas, their leader’s goal to capture Fresco and make him one of their own.

 

DEAD RADIANCE – Book 1 in the Valkyrie NovelsFor as long as she can recall Bryn Halbrook has seen a golden aura around certain people, and it is only when her new best friend Joshua dies that she understands the glow means death. Bryn struggles to adapt to a new town and a new foster home while trying to deal with the guilt of being unable to save her friend. Until mysterious biker-boy, Aidan Lee arrives.
When Aidan unexpectedly takes off he leaves behind a shattered heart, a tonne of unanswered questions and a mysterious book that suggests Bryn is a Valkyrie. Bryn is faced with questions about Aidan’s real identity, the real reason he came to Craven, and that Odin, Freya and Valhalla just might be real.
As if accepting her new wings, new life and new home in Asgard isn’t difficult enough, Bryn is forced to find and return the precious necklace of the Goddess Freya. The only problem is – if she fails, Aidan will die.
The mystery of a Mythology is easy to enjoy. The reality is much harder to accept.

A child born of sun and moon will impart a human gift to bring forth the fall of the house of Gammen. – Hayes Prophecies
So you read the prophecy. It’s all mystical, but pretty vague. Am I right? Those three, short lines are absolutely frustrating. Lucky me, I’m the one who’s supposed to figure it out. I’m the child born of sun and moon.
Join Keira Ryan as she chases her destiny in this exciting third installment in the Midnight Guardian Series. While Keira searches, her enemies draw closer. A history of trust is tested. A promise of passion turns deadly. A surviving evil creates doubt and there’s only one way to stop it…Find the Gift.Just what do you get the spoiled gremlin queen that has everything?

Ready for a new kind of teen paranormal romance?
Also look for:
Of Sun & Moon, Book 1
Whispering Evil, Book 2
Book 4, Shadows Rising, coming Fall 2012


 
Love is irresistible.  Gravity is undeniable.
COVER REVEAL

 

Heather Self’s debut novel!


The next in the series from Fisher Amelie!

Review of Pazuzu’s Girl by The Horror Zine

Posted in book reviews, horror, indie, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by rachelcoles

I’ve been off and on the site recently, due to life getting a little nuts. I have been really thrilled to have the YA Indie Carnival, because it made me sit down and post, and discuss things that I thought about while I was running around during the day and never sat down to talk about. Writing discipline is one of the things that I think a lot of people struggle with, especially as people get more and more drawn into all kinds of distractions. Pretty soon, I look up and the whole year has gone by, when I wasn’t looking. I am very disorganized, and so making a set time to sit down and write has been crucial for me.

Everyone loves good reviews. It’s a huge boost in so many ways. If I’m having a bad day, it makes me realize that most of the things I’m obsessing about aren’t that big a deal. If I’m having a good day, well, that’s just the hot fudge on the sundae, and also a great excuse to go out and get ice cream for real. But it is also great for encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing. I think a lot of times writers feel like we work hard on something and then it goes off into ether world and gets lost. So when a source that we are fans of notices our work, it really renews determination, especially if we are embroiled in writing another one.

So, I am sitting with a huge grin on my face that will only change long enough to stuff a hot fudge sundae in it. Here is the review of Pazuzu’s Girl by The Horror Zine.

http://www.thehorrorzine.com/ReviewFolder/PazuzusGirl/Girl.html

And here is the main link, because you should really check out this zine f you love horror. It is a wealth of scary stories and terrific authors.

And here is a quote from the review: “Although technically a Young Adult novel, it is sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by adults as well. I recommend Pazuzu’s Girl for any fan of fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons; for that matter, any fan of a walloping good read.”

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